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Cereb Cortex. 1997 Apr-May;7(3):193-206.

Top-down modulation of early sensory cortex.

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Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and Neurological Surgery, USA.


Data from nine previous studies of human visual information processing using positron emission tomography were reanalyzed to contrast blood flow responses during passive viewing and active discriminations of the same stimulus array. The analysis examined whether active visual processing (i) increases blood flow in medial visual regions early in the visual hierarchy and (ii) decreases blood flow in auditory and somatosensory cortex. Significant modulation of medial visual regions was observed in six of nine studies, indicating that top-down processes can affect early visual cortex. Modulations showed several task dependencies, suggesting that in some cases the underlying mechanism was selective (e.g. analysis-or feature-specific) rather than non-selective. Replicable decreases at or near auditory Brodmann area (BA) left 41/42 were observed in two of five studies, but in different locations. Analyses that combined data across studies yielded modest but significant decreases. Replicable decreases were not found in primary somatosensory cortex but were observed in an insular region that may be a somatosensory association area. Decreases were also noted in the parietal operculum (perhaps SII) and BA 40. These results are inconsistent with a model in which the precortical input to task-irrelevant sensory cortical areas is broadly suppressed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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